Candidate profiles: affordable housing | AspenTimes.com
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Candidate profiles: affordable housing

With Election Day on May 8 and absentee voting under way, today marks the third installment of a five-part questionnaire for the Aspen mayoral and City Council candidates. This series of questions will run all week, concluding Friday.Today’s question: Is there a need for more affordable housing within the city of Aspen?LJ ErspamerThere is a continuing need for employee housing in Aspen due to the current growth rate we are experiencing, the shortage of units we have and the retirement of some longtime locals who will retain their employee units by right. The number of units is always a moving target, and we cannot count on ADU in private homes as housing as very often they are left vacant.With the run-up in real-estate prices in Basalt and Carbondale, our employees are not able to enter the free market anymore, as it is too expensive. Also the need for workers all the way to Rifle will cut into our worker availability.Now the Mine Dumps that house local workers are being torn down for the new hotel, and that will put further pressure for new units. Rental units are a priority, and the city should be proactive in searching for these available locations. Therefore, we need to be proactive in finding areas from Aspen Village to Aspen for the best locations for employee housing. Inside the city limits would be the best locations; however, the choices are few. Yes, we should find areas for employee housing. The city should be aggressive in their search for new opportunities.Michael WamplerAs already stated, I believe in 10 years’ time we will not have the luxury of a downvalley work force here in Aspen. Therefore, if we don’t have the necessary housing available for our own employees, our already understaffed town will have a very serious labor shortage. In every major city, there is housing available above almost all downtown retail. We must embrace this with open arms and somehow find a way to potentially house 100 percent of OUR future work force.Name: Steve SkadronYes, more is better. Housing our work force in the city builds community and strengthens the character of our small town. It acts as an economic driver supporting locally operated and locally serving businesses. It guarantees that workers are on hand to fill jobs. It sustains and protects our fragile environment by reducing commutes. It lets employees do the things they moved here to do (i.e. not commuting) and finds them more content, providing better service to guests, and creating happier customers who, in turn, leave Aspen with a better impression of our town. We’re all richer because of it. It’s a win-win.Michael O’SullivanYes, there is need, but we will never be able to house everybody that would like to live and work in Aspen. The Aspen Area Community Plan of housing 60 percent of our work force is obtainable and within reach. We have done a great job creating housing in the public sector and in the private sector via development mitigation. We need to continue to pursue pockets of quality affordable housing. We also need to be forward-thinking and find creative ways to produce turnover on these properties. Twenty-five years from now, we will come to realize we have created one big retirement community.Dwayne RomeroA resounding YES! We need more affordable housing just like we need water and fresh air to survive. The same holds true for the character of our town – housing is an essential element to preserving the feel and soul of Aspen, period. The Aspen Area Community Plan has a stated goal of 60 percent of our work force to be housed in town, and we are not there. I would like to pursue new initiatives and inventive ideas in our quest for additional housing, including direct public/private ventures with property owners in town. This approach, coupled with the firm stance that all new development must mitigate its affordable housing onsite/in-town, serve as our best methods to achieve new housing for our town. Bottom line: 20 years from now I would like to know that my daughters at least had a choice to live here in town. We need to ensure we pay the program forward to the next generation. Toni Kronberg Yes, there is a NEED for more affordable housing in both rental and ownership units for all income levels and age groups within the City of Aspen boundaries.The question is … how can this be accomplished? We need to answer three questions: How much more housing is needed to sustain a critical mass of permanent and seasonal workers and maintain a multigenerational community? What income levels are underserved currently? Where are appropriate locations?New development projects are being required to put housing for their new development onsite for their new employees at a very high cost of construction. This approach helps the new development projects but doesn’t help the current shortage of housing for those people already working here. Bonnie BehrendI live in 100 square feet in a building with 39 other same-size units rented by those who live and work critical jobs in this city. We have too few affordable professional units. If we had enough space, our rents would drop. We need to triage the problem – housing, transportation, child care. Attack government, traffic, housing and childcare gridlock. More viable housing and more early education for 6-week- to 5-year-olds would reduce numbers of commuters. Until rental property prices drop and the majority of professionals and workers do not have to commute, we don’t have enough housing. Mick IrelandYes, both rental and ownership. In the past three years, the state demographer, Jim Westkott, reports we have added more than 1,600 jobs in the community. The latest lottery had 78 applicants and one winner. This program has kept us real in a way that other resorts envy and enabled businesses to avoid some of the crippling shortages of workers that affect other resorts. If we want less traffic, we need to reduce commutes. Finally, each affordable unit results in 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year simply by eliminating the average 20-mile commute.Tim SemrauAbsolutely, precisely 289 to reach our Aspen Area Community Plan community goal of housing 60 percent of upvalley workers. I used the city’s agreed-upon methodology utilizing Department of Labor statistics to calculate this number since city housing hasn’t done so. I have proposed three specific projects to reach our goal in the next five years, which we can pay for with over $20 million surplus left in our housing fund. After congratulating ourselves on reaching our goal with these projects, it will be time for the community to collectively decide if it’s time to move the goal line.TorreYes. We need both ownership and rental units in the city to enhance a balanced community. In my four-year term I have helped create 150 units, improved the environmental efficiency standards, raised capital improvement rates and refined our ability to get more in town units. Currently, we are completing Burlingame, pursuing in-town locations and integrating housing into development. I am the only candidate that has new proposals for the balanced funding approach to paying for new units, and lowering initial sales prices. I advocate for public/private partnering, employing free-market components, and land-lease programs to reduce the costs to the city and, in turn, lowering the costs to potential owners.


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